“I wish these scholarships were there in my time,” says the first sportsperson from Motorsports to win the prestigious Arjuna Award three years back in 2019. He spoke to NDTV at a function where JK Tyre was celebrating its completion of four decades of motorsport journey in India. The company announced a new scholarship program of Rs 2.5 crore. This initiative will select up to 5 young athletes, including a girl, and provide them with a chance to groom their career in motorsport on international platforms.
Speaking about the new program, Mr. Sanjay Sharma, Head of Motorsports, JK Tyre said, “JK Tyre has always been at the forefront of promoting motorsports in India. With an aim to give the young talent the much-needed push, we have announced this scholarship program which will select kids from across categories and provide them with a chance to bring in laurels by representing the nation on international platforms. It will not be a 100% scholarship for talented kids. In fact, the kids will also be trained to raise funds for their future races.”
17-year-old Amir Sayed from Kottayam has been declared the first recipient of this new scholarship program. He demonstrated his mettle at the JK Tyre Novice Cup Champion in 2020 by winning all 12 races of the season. With support from JK Tyre Motorsport, Amir will participate in the French F4 Championship this year.
Amir will join several other recipients from before who were nurtured by the company’s other scholarship programs, like Arjun Maini, Kush Maini, Yash Aradhya, Akhil Rabindra, Sneha Sharma, and Mira Erde. They are now all racing abroad.
The experts in the field laud the growing Indian pool of budding racers. Mr. Sanjay Sharma says, “The nice thing is that the age group for Indian racers has considerably come down to 14 years from 17-18 years. In India there would be around 30 recognizable talented racers in the 14-year age group, which is a great number.”
He recalls, “Twelve years back, when India got the honour to organize its first F1 race at the Buddha international circuit, there was no recognizable talent in this age group (12-14 years). Now kids begin their journey as early as the age of 8 and this is at par with the international standard.”
The three-time APRC (Asia Pacific Rally Championship) champion and seven-time INRC (Indian National Rally Championship) champion Gill, 40, is raring to participate in the WRC Safari Rally in Kenya scheduled to take place from June 23-26. Gill adds, “This is one of the toughest rallies in the world where your fitness is thoroughly tested and I am feeling butterflies in my stomach. I am pretty confident about doing well in this challenging and rugged rally.”
Gill will be driving the Skoda Fabia R5 in WRC 2 with fellow Brazillian co-driver Gabriel Morales. The safari features 19 special stages in its 365 km long rally route that is comprised of closed dirt tracks, rocky and bumpy routes, along with uncertain weather.
The new scholarship program, the company claimed, is in line with the company’s ethos to develop and nurture raw and young talents in the world of motorsport racing, be it two wheelers, carting or four-wheeler races.
Mr. Sanjay Sharma added, “In fact, more than 90% of the Indian kids racing abroad have come from JK Tyre’s program.”
JK Tyre’s officials also claimed that despite the pandemic in the last two years, they successfully hosted their racing championship coupled with all annual events.
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